Harteveld, C & Bekebrede, G (2008). The more the merrier? Learning in single vs. multiplayer games. In Y Xiau & E ten Thij (Eds.), Gaming 2008: Design for Engaging Experience and Social Interaction: Proceedings of MCCSIS’08 IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 22-27 2008 (pp. 11-18). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: IADIS Press. (ISBN: 978-972-8924-63-8)
From observations of successful entertainment games it is hypothesized that implementing a singleplayer option may require a different approach than a multiplayer option. It is further argued that if for creating a successful game the single or multiplayer option needs to be aligned with a specific approach, this may have far fetching consequences for educational games. These games have to be fun next to instructional and both criteria may be affected by the implemented approach. To investigate whether this could be true and to understand what the specific approaches could entail for educational games, single vs. multiplayer games are examined theoretically from a game and learning perspective. Empirically, the theoretical concepts are illustrated with two case studies, one singleplayer and one multiplayer game. The analyses show that a “singleplayer approach” is data-intensive, uses direct transfer and individual learning, and solely has formal rules. On the other hand, a “multiplayer approach” is process-intensive, uses open-ended and social learning, and has formal as well as social rules. Based on this, it is suggested that a singleplayer approach would be a better fit if a game is used for transferring a specific or standard set of knowledge and skills, while a multiplayer approach would be a better fit if broad and abstract insights need to be derived.